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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - Soil Chemistry

Role of Organic Acids in Phosphate Mobilization from Iron Oxide


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 70 No. 1, p. 222-234
    Received: Jan 10, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): sarah.johnson@cgiar.org
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  1. Sarah E. Johnson * and
  2. Richard H. Loeppert
  1. Soil & Crop Sciences Dep., 2474-TAMU, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2474


Phosphate deficiency often limits crop production in acid tropical soils because of the strong bonding of phosphate by Fe and Al oxides. Organic-acid exudation from roots is one reported plant adaptation to P deficiency. The objective of this study was to predict the efficacy of this P-deficiency stress response in different soil types by investigating the mechanism of organic-acid-induced P mobilization from different oxide minerals. Greater proportions of Fe and initially adsorbed P were released from ferrihydrite when compared with goethite. More P was released and Fe dissolved at pH 4.0 than pH 5.5 or 7.0 from both oxides. For ferrihydrite, the order of effectiveness of the organic ligands for P release at pH 4 was citrate (19% of the total initially adsorbed P) > malate (14%) > tartrate (5%)>> oxalate = malonate = succinate (0.3–1.2%). For Fe release at pH 4, the order was oxalate (18% of total oxide suspension Fe dissolved) ≈ citrate (17%) > malonate (13%) > malate (8%) > tartrate (5%) >> succinate (0.02%). Faster phosphate readsorption in the case of oxalate than citrate probably accounted for the low apparent release of P by oxalate in spite of its greater Fe dissolution. At the smaller adsorbed-P concentration (1/4 of the adsorption maximum), the predominant mechanism of organic-acid induced P release was ligand-enhanced dissolution of the Fe oxide rather than ligand exchange. At 3/4 of the adsorption maximum, ligand exchange contributed to a greater extent to P release. Under low P-fertility conditions, organic-acid exudation would be more effective at increasing P availability in soils dominated by poorly crystalline than well-crystalline Fe oxides.

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